As 2020 dawns, and people recover from the large amounts of alcohol, pudding, cheese and meat they consumed over Christmas, Veganuary starts to look like a good way out (for those that hate going to the gym).

The vegan movement has become more and more mainstream every year. Perhaps there is something about it being 2020 that has everyone talking about it more this time. With Blue Monday having just gone by, people are talking about both the physical and mental health benefits to going vegan as perhaps a greater reason than the environmental aspect.

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Veganism has gotten to the point where its popularity and convenience are mutually exclusive. The more popular it gets, the easier it is to buy vegan products cheaply, eat out at restaurants and not have to think too long and hard about getting the right nutrients. Likewise, the easier it is to go vegan, the more mainstream it becomes.

The interesting (and possibly rather obvious) thing about the branding and promotion of veganism (which perhaps relates to the success of Veganuary) is that the target audience is those who love meat. Look at Burger King. They recently launched a plant-based burger with the intention of reaching meat-eaters. You would imagine they might want to increase sales by targeting a new audience – but apparently the Rebel Whopper is “not suitable for vegans or vegetarians” as the burgers are cooked on the same grill as meat burgers.

The point of the burger is to help those wanting to reduce their meat consumption, without feeling like they are reducing their meat consumption. I suppose it’s the most practical and genius kind of branding. People prefer to stick to what they know and like.

It’s also changing cultural perception of veganism. Previously, sometimes justifiably and sometimes not, there was a sense that vegans were judgemental and disapproving of anyone who didn’t subscribe. You couldn’t, for instance, be an environmentalist if you weren’t also a vegan. But the kind of thing that Burger King is doing makes veganism more fun, inclusive and light. It’s no longer all or nothing – it’s simply about reducing meat consumption, testing out alternatives and most importantly, not torturing your self in the attempt of removing all your favourite foods in one go.

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Since the vegan movement began five years ago, participant figures have doubled every year. Unsurprisingly the number of people testing and trying out Veganuary has hit an all-time high in the UK. 2018 was the year veganism started to be normalised, seen less as a counter-culture movement and more about health and the environment. And now, two years later, people are saying 2020 is the year of the vegan. I guess we will see.

As with all New Year resolutions, it’s likely that many people will cheat during Veganuary. But let’s not think of it as cheating. Rather, let’s think of it as testing the waters, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and thinking about out why you signed up to the pledge in the first place.Chef and keynote speaker, Nadiya Hussain went on a vegan diet with her family for two weeks and came out the other end opting to eat meat on weekends. With everything that is going on with the environment, who knows where will be in 30 years time. Perhaps this is simply preparing us for the day when eating meat is no longer an option.